Gorilla shooting controversy: how zoos balance safety with natural setting

May 31, 2016

Visitors look at a gorilla at the Los Angeles Zoo in Los Angeles, California August 12, 2011. ; Credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Cincinnati Zoo staffers shot a gorilla after a 4 year old boy made his way into the animal’s enclosure.

Attendees filmed the 400-pound Gorilla as he dragged the boy around the space. Zoo officials say that the shooting was necessary to protect the child from the gorilla, named Harambe.

Still, the action drew ire from animal-rights activists. Many said that the loss of the gorilla’s life was unnecessary and that the parents should be prosecuted for not paying proper attention to their kid as he entered the Harambe’s space.

Local prosecutors have said that they are investigating the case to determine if the parents or the zoo are at fault.


Joyce Kaplan, Expert in Zookeeping; Faculty Dept. Chair of the Biology and Management of Zoo Animals program at Portland Community College

Jody Armor, Roy P. Crocker Professor of Law at the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law.

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